Sharing – Not Ownership?

kristy Community Development Solutions 19 October 2012

“Welcome to! This week both columns – from Neal Peirce and from former Ventura, Calif., Mayor Bill Fulton – challenge old assumptions. Neal describes how, led by young adults’ preference for sharing over ownership, bike- and car-sharing programs are mushrooming. And Bill makes the case that 20th-century patterns of suburban development may be just too expensive for state and local governments in this era of austere public budgets.” — Mary Newsom

Sharing – Not Ownership?
By Neal Peirce

For Release Sunday, October 21, 2012
(c) 2012 Washington Post Writers Group

SAN FRANCISCO – Each year the world’s automobile manufacturers spend a stunning half trillion dollars advertising the vehicles they’re pushing. We’ve all seen the ads – new model autos floating singly over magically traffic-free landscapes. The subliminal messages are clear: possession, power.

But if that’s been our pattern for three quarters of a century, is it necessarily prologue for a crowded, 21st-century with planet Earth, which will accommodate a billion more middle-class consumers?

Driven by today’s youth, a radically different value set and preference is emerging. It edged its way onto the agenda of an ambitious, yearly “Meeting of the Minds” conference organized by Gordon Feller, intellectual magnet and Cisco official, held here last week.

The notion’s this: Today’s young adults in their 20s and 30s, nurtured on the Internet’s vast cloud of choices, are incubating a value set of sharing rather than ownership. They’re networked and connected rather than focusing on individual, isolated belongings. They value choices and differing lifestyles – a clear break with the 20th-century model of “my car, my house, my possessions are me.”

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In an Austere Era, Sprawl is Simply Too Costly
By William Fulton

For Release Friday, October 19, 2012

No matter how the November election turns out, it’s clear America’s communities are in for a time of austerity. Federal and state cutbacks are likely to have a big impact on local governments. And many locals will be squeezed by pension obligations at a time when tax revenues are flat.

All of which means that from now on, taxpayers must get more for their money. That means we’re going to have to build our communities differently.

As I have said before, it is easy to mistake shiny new subdivisions for prosperity. New suburban buildings and new wide roads look great when first built. But over time, the strain of that type of development creates a significant burden on a city or county treasury.

Communities create value because people, organizations, and goods and services are in close proximity to one another and can interact efficiently. In the same way, compact communities – built on what are often called “smart growth” principles – represent a good financial deal for taxpayers. Because things are closer together, the need to build costly, upfront infrastructure is minimized. Taxpayers save money over time as well, because all those public servants we rely on – police officers, firefighters, paramedics, school bus drivers, snowplow drivers – don’t have to drive as far.

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